Second PEF Policy Fellows Cohort Reflects on Program Journey

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

PEF Policy Fellows Cohort 2.0

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.” Alexandra K. Trenfor

PEF’s second Policy Fellows cohort recently completed their 18-month program, designed to prepare teachers to be leaders and to support them in driving positive change in education policy. The program provided teachers opportunities to engage with legislators, policy makers, business & education leaders. They also delved into social issues outside of schools, which directly affect students and families in Hamilton County. Teachers worked on honing their voice to be an advocate for themselves, students, and fellow teachers. The program is also designed to develop a strong foundation in the needs of their local communities, historical context, current policy initiatives + media training, as well as building a professional network + platform for student-focused advocacy.

Throughout the program, teachers had the opportunity to meet people and develop experiences that will continue to inform their voice and opinion. The last six months focused on the Fellows' advocacy project and experiences, such as SCORE’S Day on the Hill in Nashville, TN. Participants benefited from these professional developments to expand their policy footprint and improve education. Teachers also developed an appreciation for the complexities of education policy and learned critical advocacy skills throughout their cohort’s journey.

During their final meeting at the end of April, the Fellows took time to reflect on their overall experience in the program, as well as how they will grow as an agent for change + how the program will affect them moving forward. The cohort learned that while they can advocate for policy change on their own, there is more impact when they do so as a group. “It’s going to take everyone to help education move forward,” said Walker Valley High’s Drew Akins. “There’s only so much change that can happen through one person, but when a group like this gets together and makes an emphasis to make change, we can do that. That’s a really cool part of this experience.” Akins also related his experience to another PEF program. “It’s really similar to Teacherpreneur. Through Teacherpreneur, that was the first time in my teaching experience that I felt like a teacher. From that, it’s revamped my passion in the classroom. That’s what I’ve gained from two programs at PEF.”

Policy Fellows at Day on the Hill in Nashville, TN (Feb. 26, 2019)